Gambling is a way of risking something of value – such as money or a physical prize – on an event that is uncertain in outcome. People can gamble on sports events, horse races, lottery numbers, scratchcards, games of chance or the pokies.
The aim is to win more than the amount that has been staked, which can happen but is not guaranteed. People who gamble often experience a rush of euphoria that is linked to the brain’s reward system. They also enjoy social interaction with others while playing and the possibility of winning a big sum of money. But the reality is that gambling is a highly addictive activity and can lead to harm. It can destroy not just your finances but your relationships and career. The first step to overcoming gambling addiction is admitting you have a problem. This takes courage and strength, especially if you have lost a lot of money or strained your relationships with family or friends.
Once you have admitted that you have a gambling problem, it’s important to seek help and support. You may need counselling and treatment, depending on how severe your addiction is. Treatment can include cognitive behavioural therapy, which teaches you to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. You’ll learn to challenge irrational beliefs like believing that certain rituals will bring you luck or that a run of losses is a sign that you’re due for a win.
Another important part of treatment is setting boundaries and managing your money. You should never use money that you need for bills or rent to gamble and only gamble with disposable income. Setting a budget for how much you will spend on gambling allows you to stop when your limit is reached. It’s also a good idea to set an alarm for yourself so you don’t lose track of time and end up gambling for longer than intended.
Changing your mindset can help you break the habit of gambling. It’s important to see gambling as a form of entertainment and not a source of wealth. This will help you enjoy the experience more and keep it in perspective if you do lose money.
If you have a gambling problem, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or psychologist. You can also get support from a support group. You can even try talking to a counsellor online – the world’s largest counselling service. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7. You can be matched with a qualified, professional, licensed therapist in less than 48 hours. You can do this on your laptop, phone or tablet. Just click on the link above to get started.